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Theater Program Strives to Unite Chester

July 24, 2014

By Khalil Williams ‘16

Widener is partnering up with arts and humanities organizations to raise the curtain on an exciting new program that uses theater techniques to bring the city of Chester together and solve problems on issues affecting it.

Widener is entering a partnership with the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the city of Chester, and Chester Arts Alive! to launch a new and unique civic engagement program that seeks to influence problem solving and help rejuvenate the city.

A result of a $72,000 discovery grant given to the Pennsylvania Humanities Council by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, the initiative will feature nationally known theater artists Bob Leonard and Jon Catherwood-Ginn from Virginia Tech University, who will work with Chester Arts Alive! and Gas & Electric Arts. The project uses theater techniques, such as story circles and image theater, to drive conversations among city residents, youth, seniors, preservationists, business owners, artists, and Widener to expand community engagement.

The program adds on to the proposed Chester Cultural Corridor (C3) project, which spans a one-mile long city district from Widener to the Downtown district that seeks to bring people together through arts and humanities. The conversations held through this project will help guide decisions that will advance the Arts and Culture District with Deshong Park as the centerpiece for the Corridor.

While the project is new, theater isn’t unfamiliar with the Widener community. You might remember that Widener Magazine included a story in the spring 2014 issue about the University’s own student-run theaters: the Lone Brick Theatre Company and the FreshBaked Theatre Company. The story talks about the two companies and their recent plays.

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A conceptual image provided by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council that depicts the possibilities of the Chester Cultural Corridor project.

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